How do you talk to Amazon so they will listen? I answered this question with my fellow Amazon alumnus, Jochen Schall, for Sellerlabs. Did you miss the webinar? Watch the replay or download the slides.
We received some great questions that we didn’t have time to answer and as these covered many issues sellers see more and more, I wanted to take a moment to address them.
Don’t miss part 1 of How To Talk The Amazon Talk
Q: How do we remove counterfeit offers and sellers off our listings for private label products? I have chronic issues with a competitor listing against ASINs with my brand. These offers have been removed based on Test Buys six times now, but the seller just keeps relisting the offers. How can I ask Seller Performance to discipline them?
A: Right now, the major means of getting sellers knocked off of listings is by conducting test buys. You then need to report the seller via “Report a Violation of Policy” in Seller Central. If you are the brand owner, and sellers are listing the same item in violation of your rights as a brand owner, you need to fill out and submit the Notice claim of Infringement form. Consult an attorney to submit these properly, as needed.
Q: ESCALATIONS: What approach do you recommend for “item under review” cases where Amazon makes your product unavailable until they investigate “the issue”, based on what I read this may take up to 2 weeks which is huge lost in sales. What can be done to expedite this process?
A: You can escalate to Jeff but make sure you’re providing good invoices and complete supply chain documentation, not incomplete invoices with missing or illegible fields, or supplier info that cannot be verified in an easy online search. They won’t spend time hunting for info on your suppliers, you need to make it easy for them.
You should also look into what might have gone wrong with you inventory. If they ask you for a Plan of Action to get the ASIN reinstated, also make sure that your “POA” is written in such a manner that you have addressed item quality concerns and provided applicable solutions to those problems. And use a format that makes the case you present easy to understand and accessible, otherwise, you may be caught in the Amazon “spin cycle” for a while longer.
Q: Regarding “providing invoices to Amazon”-– I’m extremely reluctant to provide Amazon with ANY of my invoices. I know they are a highly unethical company and thrive on stealing suppliers and competing with their sellers. I’ve been refusing to provide invoices. Can you please comment on this?
A: Retail teams and Seller Performance or Product Quality teams don’t interact over who is using what suppliers. This information is used to verify that you’re selling legitimate product, especially if your item quality is in doubt. If Amazon wants to sell what you’re selling at a better price than you are, they can do that easily without seeing where you buy your products. This is not what invoices and supply chain documentation are used to gauge.
Q: If we receive inauthentic policy notices and respond with invoices and POA, are they removed from account? We don’t usually have any response after providing the info
A: Nothing is removed from the account. If they allow you to relist against an ASIN once you’ve submitted invoices then you are no longer restricted, but the record remains in case there are additional complaints or warnings in the future.
Q: Is there a way to see how many “warnings” or “strikes” we have on our account based on customer complaints?
A: You have no visibility into how many warnings you have. Investigators refer to this information as they proceed along with an investigation, but none of that is outward facing. They expect you to know your own item quality and always be taking any steps necessary to avoid buyer complaints.
Q: Why would Amazon be looking for invoices?
A: You should read Investigate Your Invoices Before Amazon Does
Q: Opt out of FBA Repackaging “Used item sold as new” – How do you address this when you are selling products that you know are brand new, and are inspected as such before sending to FBA?
If we get a used as new complaint and have done everything mentioned to make sure used is not mixed in our inventory. In other words either product we received is bad or feel customer was not truthful. Do we respond with our POA and remove that ASIN to prevent an ongoing issue with a particular product?
A: There is a relatively simple solution to this problem if you only sell new items and you receive constant warnings for “Used Sold as New” products. Manually opt out of the “FBA Repackaging” programs, and make sure that returns won’t be generously classified as “resellable inventory” by FBA, only to be reported by another buyer as a “no longer new” item. If this sort of thing never happens to you, then you might be able to continue to “opt in” to FBA Repackaging, but everyone else increases their risk of an account review or suspension but letting FBA classify your items as “Still new” and only requiring new packaging. This causes numerous headaches, and some account suspensions that could have easily been avoided.
Q: Are retail arbitrage items considered USED in the eyes of Amazon when responding to a performance notifications?
A: They are often associated with a higher percentage of item quality complaints than other items with more solid sourcing. There is increased attention by policy teams to products listed in “New” condition that may have been returned and resealed, that may be older or aging product bought long ago but never sold, or items that could in any way be considered anything less than perfect and pristine new. You need to show some detailed invoices indicating that the items were bought new and from a reliable source, not at closeout sales, liquidations or other similar places. There may be great margins found sourcing items in liquidations but there are associated costs elsewhere, at least when you sell on Amazon.
Q: Is there a way to exclude weekends from response metrics? That way we avoid fewer “Over 24 hour” response times since we do not operate on Saturdays and Sundays?
A: That won’t be changing anytime soon. Amazon wants you to be more, not less, responsive. It’s not really a “take weekends off” marketplace. My advice is to hire someone who can answer emails with something other than a simple auto-responder, which is not much of an answer anyway. Someone who works weekends who can let a buyer know that they will begin looking into a problem. That could make a big difference between a complaint directly to Amazon and something you are able to resolve on your own, which could in effect reduce some performance notifications on your account. Amazon is a 7 days a week company, 24 hours a day, and you should operate as if you’re able to respond to any buyer within a maximum of 24 hours.
Q: ANNOTATION of ACCOUNT: Should we send Seller Performance an email to annotate account; or is it to Seller Support?
A: Seller Support should not be answering questions about things like account suspension appeals, or the process around item quality warnings, or how quickly Performance and Policy teams will respond to a POA. They are not authorities on these subjects and this just muddies the water around resolving this sort of thing. They need to direct you to the appropriate teams and the right email queues.
Q: FYI, I once received an email from customer service stating my account has been suspended and there will be no way to activate it again, but that was not the case.. They lied to me because I complained in the email to support.
A: Don’t listen to Customer Service or Seller Support, they don’t have details or knowledge of SOPs in Performance and Policy. Email to the proper queues (Seller-performance@ and seller-performance-policy@ for Product Quality teams) and ask them to annotate your account, looking afterwards for the email response that indicates they have done so.